Saturday, January 31

the cup and the cafe

i have a draft post list of around 20. Somedays im just not in the mood to post what i had planned and so i do something different. So my list keeps growing. This morning i had contemplated a make your own verjus post, a Long Lunch post and a coffee cup post.It's obvious what won.

Now its not really all that exciting, but it was a bit of an ah-ha moment for me ; a lesson in being conscious. It goes like this.
When it comes to coffee, im not really a drink coffee when i go out kind of girl. Too much coffee and Im like Elvis on a bad day. I have one cup every morning; a French Press of fair trade East Timorese double roast (the most loca organic coffee i can find), usually in bed and most days brought to me by the love of my life. Cant get that at the cafe! But somedays, when im heading off to work, im rushed and dont get to enjoy that cup of milky drug as much as Id like and so the cafe around the corner from my office gets my business for a weak latte.

So here's the story. First day back after leave, I've detoured, bought the latte and found myself sporting a core flute cardboard coffee cup with the plastic hat. Hmm. Ive posted about these damn plastic coffee toppers and disposable coffee cups before and Kale for Sale had a post only last week on plastic toppers which i probably read nodding, but thinking ohh, not me. Yikes. How did i end up with this small enviro bomb in my hand? Pot, kettle and all that...

It was just something that happenned on the spur of the moment. By the time the coffee was in front of me, it had 'the hat'. Too late to say no, it would have been thrown away anyway if id taken it off there...so the next morning i went, in ordered coffee, preempted the hat topper and said hold the hat and asked if it would be ok if i brought my own cup in from now on? Not being the most assertive person, i figured best to ask first and be rejected than be there with cup in hand and face sure torture if my request was denied and cop another cardboard cup "No problem Kel, as long as it fits under the machine thats fine"

So yay! I now belong to the holier than thou cup bringing brigade. Here's a challenge to you..wanna join? Wanna be a cup bringer too? If you have a regular coffee place it makes it easier to ask as you already have a relationship with the person behind the counter. If you go to a cafe chain, where shifts and numbers make relationship virtually impossible, find a small owner operated cafe and start one!
Then again, if you're one of those assertive, 'i do yoga in the customs area of international airports coz waiting just bores me' kinda people, or very very organised (or running late but dont care, coz you're from Paris )kinda person and get to sit and enjoy the coffee in situ in porcelain, then ignore this suggestion.

Moral of the story, be organised. Im looking at all these environmental issues and thinking most (all?) of them are due to 'convienience'. If we had to be organised; take bags, cups, hankerchiefs, towels, the bus, be responsbible for our own stuff...

Let me know if you do.

Friday, January 30

Haiku Friday


the sun clumps up, like
a bunch of marching apples
drumming in the trees

a collaborative Haiku with 'the bubster'

Thursday, January 29

keeping cool



well the house thermometer blew its stack by half 8 yesterday morning with a record inside reading of 27C. i blew a stack by half 8 last night when the temperature outside was still 43C. Its just incredible. I cannot remember a day when the mercury hit 46C (114.8F), maybe thats because yesterday was the hottest day on record for 70 years!

Im not looking forward to a week of 40C plus (104F). The creek is bone dry and the leaves are starting to curl and crackle. Im up early to water the vegetable garden and we have been dragging drip hose around the garden to water the citrus and other fruiting trees.

Our house is built on passive solar principles and the architect (yup, Simon)determined to have no air conditioner, instead relying on the siting of the house in a valley which catches the breeze, the rendered cut rock face and earth which forms the wall and foundation of the lower length of the house, venturi air flow effects from the upper level windows and doors and downstairs air temperatures and the deciduous trees surrounding the house (and the odd wet towel or two). But natural methods are only good for so long....We are all pretty mutch wandering around in our knickers tossing soggy cloths at each other. Dinner was definitely a no cook affair of vegetarian burritos with guacamole. Going to work has never looked so good! The split system air conditioner i was thinking about for the studio, to run off the pv solar, the reason d'etre for the building of the very non passive solar designed studio; to act as a location site for the cells, is looking better by the minute! This is nuts.
How are you keeping cool?

Wednesday, January 28

some answers

Yikes, now its my turn. I volunteered via Loving the Question. I've also seen it on others but have been to shy to have a go, but Laura Janes responses were so, soo considered and interesting and whizz bang. She inspired me. I dont usually do this. So now ya know.

It works like this. Bloggers volunteer to be subjects, then you send them five probing questions by email. Here are my answers to the five questions Laura Jane asked me. In return, I invite any of you to email me or leave a comment saying ‘interview me’, and I’ll ask you five hopefully mildly thought provoking, if not incredibly nosy questions.

1. What do you collect and why?

Dust. Quite well on on every skirting in every room and we do a pretty good job on most static surfaces. i have more enjoyable and more necessary things to do than dusting. Seriously though, Im not a collector of anything on a scale where you would think it was a 'collection'. I love glass and have bits and pieces of hand crafted glass stuff, but on the whole Im pretty picky where i choose to spend my money and having 'stuff', for me, means that i have to get dedicated about searching for something and paying for stuff that just hangs around, invariably needing dusting.

So, if i can include collecting 'experiences' then thats what i would claim to collect, and definitely plan to collect a lot more of. Life is short. Collections seem indulgent and organised. Buuuuut, if i were to go out on a limb, collect something that i could justify spending the money on, something I covet, something that i do keep an eye on and search online for, just to look at at sigh, is antique Lalique jewellery. The line, the detail, the colours and the natural organic forms appeal to my sensibilities. I love the art noveau/deco period. The Lalique exhibition was the one 'cultural' experience, beyond le Louvre, I insisted on visiting on our 'moon in Paris.


2. Collections aside, your passion for low-impact living, environmental awareness, and local produce consumption is well documented. Is there anything on which you will NOT compromise/adapt in the name of the environment?

Ohh, thats a curly question Laura. Im seriously thinking about not answering this question, only for boring readers with a long drawn out sanctimonious response. Well i would have to say, for all that i do, its not enough, not by a long shot. I buy computers, drive the car, have kids, consume stuff: cd's, cameras, shoes, most second hand, but some not. I use until it wears out, buy most things on a needs only basis. Being enviro-minded means making about 50 calculations before you set a foot down. which ones better, plastic or glass? but its local product in a plastic container..which wins out?...its organic and local in plastic...on and on it goes.

Structural limitaions in the organisation of our society make it pretty impossible to live up to ones own ideals short of living a life that is virtually unrecognisable to us all. If there is a good argument and a way to incorporate it, nothing in my life is so sacred that it's non-negotiable. Except my kids wellbeing, but thats subjective. But no, i would compromise/adapt pretty much anything if i can. I have a will to do what i can, and the question as it reads to me speaks to my dogma. We dont each much processed foods at all, except pasta, noodles and sometimes bread; our shopping at the supie always fits into a basket, we dont 'do' trolley shops. I lug bags of vegetables home. We eat wild meat, farmed organic as a treat. We use green electricity, 3kw of solar panels get installed next month, we now have one small car, bus to school and work and walk to the local shops. We buy second hand clothes, new ones at Christmas, products in paper over plastic where we can, luxury goods and foods are just that. We eat pretty basic foods, tasty but basic. Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! But i would say that i wont compromise our health. Living a 'carbon neutral' life takes time and effort; that cheese from the market thats not in plastic, and bulk foods from one store only. I look forward to the day when we legislate in those areas which will make it easier for us all to choose to live a more sustainable life. Oh, i travel. Planes. nasty things they are. Future: take our boat! wind powered.


3. What would the adult Kelly tell the 10 year old Kelly?

Lighten up ( see Q1 and Q2), laugh more and do way more random things. Dont worry about what your mother will say. Lifes an adventure, live it. Dont waste a drop of life. Follow your dreams and listen to your passions. Hang around with good people, funny people, caring and considerate people. Dont settle for second best. You CANT change him. Go play. I love you. You deserve it. Oh and that body of yours. Love it. Bless it. Worship it. Own it. Feed it. Work it. Respect it. It takes you places girl. Also, dont fear getting older. Its aownderful thing. As the body ages the mind grows, the self matures and the spirit opens. Self acceptance is priceless.

4. What is your guilty pleasure?
Umm , this is a public space right? OK.. pleasures, i have many. Ones with guilt attached...well Ive been trying to let go of guilt for years so this question sucks...ok, guilty pleasure ...so on an annual basis, a bunch of lovely women (waving, you know who you are) try and leave our children behind and fly to Melbourne from wherever in Australia, where we stay in a hotel or apartment, go to breakfast, go to dinner, walk the shops, 'do' the culture, hit the hot spots and spend an afternoon in a Japanese bathhouse, where we bathe, chat, compare bits and then have shiatsu massage in turns, whilst we wait sipping green tea and miso on floor mats in a calm clean space and chat some more. Hows that for indulgent? loads of GUILT on every level and VERY pleasureable.

5. Your descriptions of your boybean's homebirth are very moving and powerful, and the birth with a severe shoulder dystocia sounds dramatic and sobering for those last few minutes. How does this contrast with your first two births as a birth experience?

Ohh. birth stories. I love birth stories. Well as you say the boy beans birth story was dramatic. Truth be known, and i have never actually acknowledged this before, i was anticipating 'something' akin to a problem late in the pregnancy. I thought it had to do with age and insecurities of birthing well but i had doubts about my ability to 'do it' this time with the boybean. Having a third homebirth felt very different. My first homebirth was a 30 week decision after another routine antenatal at the hospital. i came home and decided it was just too weird to be going into this big cold space called a hospital to 'do' the most intimate beautiful thing i could imagine. Too weird to leave my place. my home, without a baby and return one day with a child. I remember saying it seemed like going shopping - out with a bag and back home with a load. It seem incongruous, discontinuous. My first home bith was 2 weeks 'over' with a painful and posterior 9.5 pound baby, but only 6 hours, with my mother and midwife and partner in attendance. It was an incredibly empowering expereince and i had no questions of not having another homebirth with my second baby, being healthy and fit with no pre-natal conditions. Baby no.2 was a 40 minute planned homebirth of a 10 pound baby in the pool in my sunroom with B1 and partner and friend present. Quick, painless and with a ceasar salad bagel somewhere in between. So compared to boybean, the first two were a confident walk in the park, neither of which i ever harboured any doubts of my capacity to birth well. Beanboys birth although traumatic and anticipated with some trepidation, was full of blissfull care and was my best birth in terms of love and attention in both the birthing and post natal period. I felt really loved, i mean REALLY loved and sharing it with a partner and grown children is something really special.


A spare question if any of the above are too personal.

6. If Australia was unavailable as a home base, where else in the world would you live?

My second chance question. one word. Paris (but I'd have to have a 'pesonality change').

So, if your brave, even if you're not brave, just curious and adventurous , Id love the chance to do this for you. What are you waiting for? Lets get to know each other.
Post a comment saying ‘interview me’.
I will then email you with five questions that I choose.
You can then answer them on your blog.
You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you or comments that they want to be interviewed.

Tuesday, January 27

Biodynamics and birthing

Rixa has published a great post at her website Stand and Deliver on the relationship between body and soil. Its a great synthesis of the understanding of role of the rise in modern farming methods and agribusiness and the increased role of medical interventions in childbirth ( yes , you read it correctly).

Monday, January 26

January 26, 'Straya Doi


Prof. Mick Dodson, Aboriginal leader and academic was named last night as the 2009 Australian of the Year for his lifetime commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people. He has called for a "national conversation" about changing the date of Australia Day (January 26), which commemorates the landing of the first fleet at Sydney cove in 1788. "
To most indigenous Australians it (Australia Day) really reflects the day on which our world came crashing down. Many of our people call it invasion day."


So we had that 'national' conversation at the lunch table with the kids, about the meaning of 'Straya Doi', why its a holiday and what it could mean. 'Straya Doi is a public holiday and despite, inspite, of the politics around it, it calls for a BBQ lunch. The kids decided that The Apology was just the beginning.


The kids made foccaccia using a Jamie Oliver recipe and topping one with rock salt and rosemary from the garden and the other topped with the last of the rocket pesto made ...umm...a while back, and thinned with more olive oil.





and i made beetroot and horseradish relish to have with our 'snags' (sausages), made from a mix of chioggia and bulls blood beetroot and horseradish root from the garden.








The 'snags' were biodynamic beauties of fennel, chilli and pork (a veggie patty only for B2 as B1 declared an incredible craving for 'snags') and she did the fry up.



followed up with blackberries picked on the side of the road this morning on our walk with the beanboy and local honey ice cream .


The kids decided that invasion day was probably the most fitting descriptor of the day in 1788. Pretty hard to argue with that. Oh, and its nice to see that with a change of national government comes a commesurate change in the calibre of Australian of the Year nominees. Not A Cricketer.

Saturday, January 24

food blogging


Whats the difference between a 'food blog' and just blogging about food?
I reckon its a recipe posting ratio of anything more than 5:10

My sister in law casually dropped a message on my 'wall' (Facebook term for page) last week saying she 'really liked my blog but it was very foodie'. (waving at YOU Jen!)

Now being essentially someone who is a little insecure; lacking in self assurity, it threw me into a spin being labelled as very anything. I have reflected on my tendency toward very food related posting in the past so it got me thinking and articulating (justifying) to myself about my interest in food and its place in my activism. Was i realy just randomly blogging about what we had for dinner? So i was really pleased today to find a passage in my current read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (the irony is not escaping me folks) a wonderful passage that summed up my feeling about the important role of food, not just from a direct nuritional point of view or its role in shaping culture and family, but the big picture of food, the one that i strive to address by my choices and practices in my everyday life, the concept that drives me to include it in my blogging.
Eaters must understand that eating take place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that what we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used

It's what i try and teach my children.

I think food activism is a particularly very feminine approach to the current issues we face as a global community; it embodies feminist conceptualisations of the personal being political and while we may strive to have equity in our homes and in our child rearing practices, contemporary evidence still shows that women do the majority of the feeding tasks of the family; the decision making of the purchasing and the making and providing. My husband may choose to climb coal fired chimney stacks, head off the Japanese whaling boats in a small rubber dingy and organise pickets against GMOs, I do the day to day monitoring and purchasing of food and all that it involves when you are an ethical, sustainable loca vore consumer and facilitate and manage the planting and maintainance of the vegetables. Both are acts of defiance and intent, both are radical in their own way. Besides the fact, i really love it, food has always been my 'thing'. (If you have any issues with a feminist embracing the traditionally feminine, just head on over to bluemilk and start at the first post). So if what we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used, making good food choices; side stepping and opting out of supporting monolithic, polluting and unethical agribusiness, is choosing to use the worlds resources in a more considered way.

Friday, January 23

Haiku Friday


sucking sweet juices
the boy smiles, reaching for more
our trees first fruit, gone

Thursday, January 22

Prime Ministers Award

For any of you who were wondering what happenned... well its obviously really, I would have blogged about it if I'd won!
The deserving winner of the 2008 PM Award was the CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science agency. The winning project was the Flagships Program, which integrated and united all research on water, climate, energy, health, food security, minerals and manufacturing across the country. A pretty huge , nation building research strategy for building a sustainable future.
Im just very proud to have been nominated a finalist alongside such worthy competitors.

Wednesday, January 21

causal relationship : pyrex addiction and bisphenol A

My ebay balance is looking a little ridiculous. Im fervently bidding, even sniping, pyrex sets, new and used. Recent exposure to pyrex storage while visiting fervent anti plastic 'rellies' in the States made me a convert; clean, content so very visible, freezable, stackable and heatable. I have Tupperware, most of it is apparently safe, but i dont like heating food in it, never have.

Just so you know, im outing myself. Im a microwave user. We are a MUF (microwave using family). It lives in the pantry, so its on when no ones around and Im not convinced of the research which shows health effects of food thats been microwaved. So Im outing myself as a'microwaver' when it comes to heating leftovers and milk for my one coffee a day. And, just for the record, when it comes to cooking real food, Im a self professed snob and believe that real, good food cannot be 'cooked' in a microwave. Just thought id get all that out there.

I'd seen the research years ago on mutated male fish living in a river downstream from a plastics factory, where the factory waste was run off into the river, contaminating the river and the fish living in it with bisphenol A. The resulting endocrine disruption in the fish was shown to be associated with high exposure to these chemicals, resulting in hemaphrodite fish. The freaky fish freaked me but I have to confess that as an epidemiologist i was very jealous of such a research discovery, what a Eureka! moment. So my holiday exposure to pyrex caused a serious rethink of my household practice.

Evidence from human studies in the last few years suggests some link to cancer in children from exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a component of only some plastics, and supression of male hormones in boys and some birth defects. Canada banned plastic food containers marketed for babies due to the mimicking by the body to exposure to BPA. The epidemiology does not suggest a causal relationship, but an association with higher rates of reproductive and endocrine problems and exposure to BPA. For a good synthesis of the debate read this and new research links high levels of BPA in human urine with increased odds of heart disease;up to 2-3 times greater with higher levels of BPA.


Frederick vom Saal, a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia in the US, who specifically studies oestrogenic chemicals in plastics, warns parents to “steer clear of polycarbonate baby bottles. They’re particularly dangerous for newborns, whose brains, immune systems and gonads are still developing”. Vom Saal’s research spurred him to throw out every polycarbonate plastic item in his house and to stop buying plastic-wrapped food and canned goods (cans are plastic-lined) at the grocery store. (Read the rest of the article here).

Our house is built on biological building principles, constructed and clad with recycled timbers, contains no electromagentic fields due to fully timber framing and placement of wiring and contains no plastic wall paints or varnish and no MDF so the mountain of plastic storage containers in the cupboard is a little incongruous. Borne of having small children i think; so many small bits and scraps and rather unbreakable. So my pyrex obsession continues until my plan to remove the majority of plasticizer-emitting materials from the the household food chain is complete. I am also rethinking the dozen mixed cans of tomatoes, corn, lentils and coconut milk i have in the pantry. So , even though i use it rarely, sayonara cling wrap, dried out food and plate covered bowls in the fridge and ' Hello' safe and neat and tidy.

New problem. What to do with all the Tupperware?

Tuesday, January 20

i love unit pricing (and food miles and plastic free checkouts)


Unit pricing and checkouts without plastic bags. What a way to start the year. It started with the certified organic cheese from my big name supie. I launched into doing the math conversion per 100g compared to the regular tasty sitting next to it on the shelf and realised the per unit price was already staring me in the face. The 0.48c difference already on display made me very happy. At that price difference, to those without a committment to organic purchasing and who wouldnt think to check the difference, organic doesnt look prohibitive. From a human health point of view, if there's one area of food stuff that i think you should convert to organic, its dairy. Chemical residues are fat soluble and tend to concentrate in animal fats. Yum, that cheese and cream is a chemical cocktail.

After selecting my organic cheese,bio-dynamic milk, phosphate free detergent in a recycled cardboard box and some lightbulbs, all labelled with per unit price, i stood in line at the checkout and watched a cashier hunt down some plastic bags for someone who hadn't brought their own. I realised that there were no piles of plastic bags waiting at the checkouts ready to be swiped, one after the other, by checkout staff and looking around the supermarket, every person i saw had a bundle of reusable cloth shopping bags ready for the trip home. Even before the statewide ban is fully introduced in April, the supie has begun phasing out single use plastic bags with handles; still there if you need them, but small, inconvienient ones, ones designed to make you think next time you head off to the shop. Thats the power of a blanket ban. It really forces the individual to plan ahead. And by the look of it, people were doing just fine.

Additionally, unlike other places in the world where plastic bags are banned, by not offerring an alternative, the supermarkets make consumers responsible. In those places in the world where the plastic has merely been replaced with another disposable product, namely paper bags (switching one addiction for another) you reduce the amount of plastic in landfill but you still create waste, use unecessary resources and maintain and normalise the disposable paradigm. So, Hoorah! for our state government.

Now all they need to do is work out how they can sell the organics with out entombing them in that thick plastic wrap and replacing the thin fruit and veggie plastic bags they provide with cloth alternatives and we might be gettin' somewhere, well, that and labelling the food miles.

Monday, January 19

now I'm ready

It's taken awhile but now im finally ready to committ (is that one T or two?). Late Christmas... late New Year.

I dont do new years resoloutions as a rule; too prescribed, too temporary, too ill concieved in an i-love-yews-all moment. However, one thing i have learnt in life is that "if you dont know where you're going, you'll never get there" (this one kinda whacked me around the head a few years ago). Planning really is everything, especially when it comes to THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Oops, sorry, was i shouting?

The intray is going to haunt me i know...

1) cash in on the cheesemaking course i paid for last year which got held up due to my own milk production issues

2) upholster 'The Parkers' ( OK, realistically what it will probably mean is choose some fabric/recycled plastic/old car tyres (comfy!) and get someone else to do it)

3) make time for at least one 2 hour massage and not feel guilty about the expense

4) go for a run at least 3 days a week EVEN IN WINTER (kel, the treadmill at the work gym is a suitable substitute in wet weather, keep a set of running gear at work)

5) grow all our vegetables from seed

6) start a local knitting circle and invite somone who can actually knit

7) be more consequent about getting to bed before midnight

8) be a bit more at peace about catching the bus to work ( this is a killer for me - i hate standing up all the way to work coz the whole idea of catching the bus, besides economies of energy use, is that YOU GET TO READ!!!!! and i cant read when suspended and swinging by one arm)

9) When i dont know something, particularly at work, dont nod and pretend that i do and panic afterwards. Just ask!

10) oh, yeah, finish a little something starting with P.

Sunday, January 18

thankful


It wasn't nearly as painful as i had imagined it could be. Returning to work this week was seamless, almost painless, and certainly stress free. Having a 'wife' makes life a piece of cake. I feed the bean when he wakes up, then i take a shower, dress, get my breakfast and lunch orgnised for the day, drink the coffee thats been made for me, kiss everyone good bye and walk out the door.

Im very lucky to be able to go to work under such conditions, to have a partner at home full time to take care of family life. Working without the emotional worries, logistical complexities and financial pressure of paid child care makes going back to work a relatively easy proposition. There's no seperation anxiety on either side. For me the decision to have another baby at this stage of my mothering life with 2 relatively independent bigger beans was dependent upon not having to go the paid child care option but i wanted to keep working. He went for it.

I went for a run in my lunch hour on Friday when I'd had enough of sitting in an office looking out at the hills and sunny weather. I find making time for myself is so much easier when Im not at home and i can work it into a weekly schedule. As i worked my way through acres of old olive groves and alongside the river with its beautiful native shrubs and wonderful lemon scented gums i felt so free and so deliriously happy that i had tears running down my face. Im glad i had my sun glasses on... I was running in this glorious environment, B1 was off in the city with her friends, B2 was at that moment performing on stage doing show no 6 of her youth theatre production and babybean was at home asleep being looked after by his Dad and my PhD was back on the burner and looking in good shape. I couldnt remember ever feeling so content. I was at that moment One.Happy.Camper.

Leaving them both like this to navigate their relationship by exiting the primary carer dynamic for the days Im at work has certainly changed the dynamic when Im home. No longer am i the first one on deck to change a nappy, to throw a load of nappies on or to think about what the boybeans next meal may be. Simon naturally takes ownership of these a little quicker than when we were both at home looking after the little bloke; he's thinking about parenting all the time as a consequence of doing it full time. He's loving it and I'm loving him loving it; it makes all that pumping at work worth it. It also makes getting home really special.

Only 480 weeks to go...

Saturday, January 17

root cellar


Well the wine cellar is officially holding its first root crop...umm how big does your loot have to be before you can call it a crop? Yesterday, after work, i took the bean into the garden, hung him from an apple tree and pulled the up smallest planting of carrots. This is what i ended up with after removing all the imperfect ones which are in the fridge ready to be eaten; a motley crew of knobbly heirloom roots. I am leaving the bigger sowing for another week or two, making sure i leave some of the big, non bolters to collect their seed for next year.

We have been pulling carrots for weeks and they are sweet and juicy, nothing bland or woody yet, so im pleased for my first ever carrot experience. So the first 'crop' has been cleaned, sorted to remove potential spoilers (carrots with splits, small holes or broken ones), dried and lain out on paper on trays and ready to be eaten.

Next up, beetroot and apples. Any suggestions for storing these?

Thursday, January 15

Haiku Friday



when together we
share the pathways of living,
freedom blooms within

be careful what you wish for

I used to say about my ex husband that life would be so much easier if he just got hit by a bus. Not very karmic or Zen i know, but at the time the children were experiencing so much pain and confusion that my rational and 'big' self got consumed by the emotional and insular self that exists within me.

But the guy has gone and driven over himself with his very own mini-bus for hire jam packed to the roof with narcissism, selfishness and a huge lot of emotional baggage! Flattened himself and the kids with so much parental incompetence that they came home shocked, depressed and full of confusion brought about by the huge amount negative feelings towards him that spending a month with him engendered.

What do you do when your child speaks about divorcing their dad? about having no respect left and thinking him stupid and incompetent to the degree that they say they no longer like him? I wasnt ready for that conversation with B1; it winded me, made my heart race and my brain shut down. In these moments of honesty spoken by a child you have to put aside your feelings of rage, hurt, whatever leftovers you may harbour and current circumstances you have to navigate and just hear their words and help them ,without agenda. Its hard. it takes clarity and linearity which just dont come easily when im talking about their dad and his incomprehensible, bipolar, personality disordered ways. But, for them, i have to be detatched from myself to some degree in order to respect them and their relationship with him, which exists independently of me.

Fark!

He has enough rage towards me without having this situation come about, where he will no doubt believe to some degree that i may have had something to do with the current dilemma.

The girls dont want to tell him themselves that they never want to go visit him again, that they were so bored out of their brains and felt deeply disrespected by his lack of planning, interest and maturity that they dont really care if they see him again this year. The guy banned them from visiting the only friends they have in QLD, friends they have had since birth, because their mother is a long time friend of mine. He banned them from hanging out with their step brothers while he went to work as he thinks they are a bad influence, so they stayed home, alone, on weekdays, for 4 weeks and went on out to the movies with him twice. I cant send them back to experience neglect like that. So they want me to do it, tell him they refuse to visit again. Im so unsure about the best way to approach this problem. Im damned if i do and they are damned if they do.

Its difficult when you co-parent with some one who really isn't capable or competent of filling the role.

Wednesday, January 14

Ive been gone a long time baby

so i'm back at work, 9 and a half months after saying goodbye with a very pregnant belly.

It seems a funny world to me this morning. Coming all this way to sit in an office and do work on a computer that i could have done at home. What is it that I'm supposed to be doing here? why am i doing this when my breasts are still full, my baby is still small and im not ready to be a worker again? oh yeah... money. bummer. Its still seems wrong somehow that i cant be with my baby and that my partner, who is capable and very loving, gets to be with him all day.

Also, someone has stolen my chair, my mug is missing and my pc has been upgraded and nothing on it looks familiar.
Welcome back.

Tuesday, January 13

efficiency follies


I did it. After celebrating christmas eve and the excitement of christmas morning, a full days bake got underway, the wood oven was used to its capacity.

I also was passed out on the couch by 9 pm.

Lesson No.1 of wood oven management: if you've invited guests over, dont expect to socialise much! It's incredibly hard work and i have discovered first hand the reason why the electric and gas oven was invented. Maybe doing it without a breastfeeding 8 month old kid would also help.

So, the guests had a good time but i spent most of mine 'managing' whatever was in the oven and organising what was to come next, despite having spent the previous day preparing. We did pizza (no pics of those as i figured you're all sick to death of them),

trays of vegetables i picked from the garden that morning roasted inolive oil, garlic and dukka,





the wild kid which had marinated overnight with preserved lemon, homemade verjus, olive oil and rosemary,



loaves of sourdough from a poolish made the night before



a nectarine and red currant tart with an almond meal crust and streusel topping,



Russell Jeavons 12 egg, flourless chocolate cake, complete with ash burns




and dried herbs. I would have managed the meringue (they sit in the cooling oven overnight) but i had no whites, which are kind of required for meringue but I'd misread the chocolate cake recipe which didnt call for just 12 egg yolks, but 12 whole eggs. As for toasting what was left over from last years nut crop... the guests, who obligingly shelled walnuts for the occasion, informed me that fresh walnuts were better than toasted and the hazelnuts were so hard no one wanted that job!

I figure 7 outa 9 aint bad. Not bad for a first attempt at managing a live beast such is the wood oven. But being such a perfectionist, a part of me is miffed that i didnt manage it all AND i forgot to bring out the christmas crackers. damn.

My husband thinks im nuts and maybe just a little obsessed and suggests i think about taking life a little more slowly. Hmmmm. SLOW, slow...hang on...SLOW just became fast and frenzied...will have to think about the inherent contradiction. I think i might just heed his advice but sometimes i find it incredibly difficult to not try and do it all. I am also incredibly pleased that we planned the day yesterday as todays weather is projected to hit 41 C (105.8)!

I can see how much more efficient it is to 'specialise'. If i were just doing bread or cake or veges it would have been easier. It was the preparing many different foods and doing it pretty much single handedly (simon was mainly doing host duties and hot coal moving) that killed me.

Next time, no guests.

Sunday, January 11

pizza ovens and fuel efficiencies


When planning to light up a wood fired brick oven, you really start thinking about fuel efficiencies... how much wood you're going to be using and the tangible outputs gained from burning...lighting a pizza oven is not for the faint hearted. Its no wonder firing up an oven leads to parties on a large scale - cooking up 2 pizzas for a weekday family dinner just doesnt make sense when your burning a wheelbarrow load or two of wood to get it hot enough to bake the base and melt the cheese. So when you're looking at a firing, you plan ahead and think B.I.G. Just like old times.

We are 'celebrating' Christmas this monday. The kids hate missing Christmas with us -apparently its not really christmas without my Christmas stockings! (especially when filled with treats from overseas) so we planned to build it up for a week after their return and so tomorrow is 'Christmas Eve' with lunch with family and friends on Monday. Instead of a christmas tree, today i made a huge wreath of stems of laurel and holly from the garden and suspended it from the ceiling and B1 helped decorate with baubles and candles, to be lit for dinner on Christmas eve (that's Simons tradition and I love it, so im not arguing). Its a 'tree' born of necessity; its Bean proof. Its not shaping up to be a 'traditional' Christmas by any means.

So with a firing in mind, i am preparing the baking schedule for the day. It's looking busy but hopefully lots of communal fun and not too stressful. In cooking order:

Pizza
Bread - soudough loaves
Roasted Wild Goat and garden vegetables
Russel Jeavons chocolate cakes*
Nectarine and red currant tarts with almond pastry*
Meringue kisses*
Roasted hazelnuts and walnuts from last years crop
Dried local fruits (cherries and nectarines) and garden herbs

*thank you Veggie Gnome for the luscious eggs and red currants

Im planning and preparing all i can ahead of time, the kids are getting excited, its very sweet to see after their very sad and dissapointing time with their dad , so here's cheers to a very merry christmas!

Friday, January 9

blogging communities


Life has been pretty busy since the girls came home on Monday. So much for me to process there (basically, they had a crap time. the worst. murmurs of 'divorcing' their dad; need to proces more before i can post) and a busy week with youth theatre rehearsals, set constructions and painting, sleeping issues with the bean, the garden to recover, unpacking everones gear and a final christmas shop (we are having a family celebration on Monday). Somewhere in there i made the time to do a first; a blogger meet up! I was too much of an insecure bunny to catch up with kale for sale and im mad and i eat in California, so after feeling like a total loser for being so shy, i hoicked on my brave boots and strapped all the kids in the car and drove off into the rolling orchard covered hills for a boot swap of a blogging kind; a meet and produce swap with the Mad Gnome from Mad Gnome Strikes Again. Originally we had tentatively arranged a walnut for red currant swap but being on holiday, i missed the currant season so Mad Gnome decided to prune the basil instead. We wandered the garden, picked berries on the way, got chased by chooks, met the sheep and generally had a relaxing afternoon until it was time to head home for beany bedtime with the car full of lettuce leaf basil; some ofthe leaves were as big as my hand(a whole Chico bag full), it was baked basil gnocci for dinner. 3 dozen eggs, 1 kg or so of frozen red currants, 2 varigated sage plants, 2 basil plants and loquats. For my couple of kilos of walnuts and a bottle of home made verjus, Im thinking i got the better deal. Thanks Mad Gnome, we had a rollicking good time (chook drama included) and bringing home such fantastic produce was the icing on the cake. Community, wherever you find it and create it, is so important on many levels. Have any of you had a blogger meet up and how did it go?

Haiku Friday


some sleep would be nice.
waking up before the birds
is wearing me out

Thursday, January 8

Conversation coming home on a plane

it went something like this...

Me: (buckling in) " Gee.. these seats (Qantas) are not nearly as big as the ones on Jetstar "

Him: "what?"

Me: "the seats, the Jestar ones on the Hawaii leg were much bigger, wider. My hips are touching these ones"

Him: (laughing) "No Kel, thats Christmas!"


** running shoes coming out to play next week when i return to work **

Wednesday, January 7

Summer Okonomiyaki


We dont eat much meat around here and if we do its wild meat or biodynamic, happy playful chicken. Its partly for environmental reasons and partly health reasons; commercial meat production contributes a high percentage to greenhouse gasses and vegetarians and low meat consumers live longer and live better. B2 has been a vegetarian since she was 3 and that began my journey into vegetarian cooking.

My mum is a vegetarian, so i grew up not eating much meat, but my step dad loved meat so it did make the dinnertable. My husband hasn't eaten red meat by choice ( if you make him roast beef for dinner he will eat it) for environmental reasons for over 10 years and so when we got together i just pretty much stopped buying and eating meat ( initially i did go to town on the meat when we went out - the wait staff would assume the 'beef n reef' was for the bloke and the ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers were for me) but over the years the lack of consumption has reduced the cravings B1 and i had for meat and now if i go out i pretty much stick to wild fish and B1 is a complete vegetarian by choice. But i do know the feeling of satisfaction and comfort that eating meat can bring and here is a recipe to trump all others to solve that need! Its comfort food extroardinaire! Summer Garden Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is Japanese fast food, pizza with a twist. I never liked cooked cabbage until i ate this. I use whatever is in the garden in addition to the staple ingredient - cabbage, in this case a late pick Savoy. You can mix the ingredients up to suit your preference for vegetable proportions or to suit whatever you have available. Here's a rough guide recipe based on last nights mix. Feeds 4.

1 cabbage - finely sliced
1-2 carrots - grated
A good handful of beans - chopped into inch pieces
Leftover coriander - roughly chopped
Chopped shallots
4-5 eggs
1/2 cup flour (ish)
2 tab strong salty stock
oil for frying

You can also use prawn, chicken... whatever.

Mix in large bowl to combine well. Shallow fry in pan until one side is set. ( at this stage if you want to add prawn or chicken pieces or mince, put on top of the pancake now and lightly cover with more mixture, flip and continue frying until cooked.


With okonomiyaki you can feed vegetarians and meat eaters without doing a different meal. You can make small pikelet size ones but we just do one motherload each which fills a dinner plate (oink). Serve with ketchap manis or tamari and japanese mayonaise (regular works too but the japanese one tastes better but im not sure why as i cant read the label!) It makes great leftovers and we fight over who gets it!

Tuesday, January 6

eco-bags for fruits, veggies and grains



Late last year i blogged about making some fine weave cloth bags to use for produce shopping, to replace the plastic bags i had been endlessly reycling (washing and drying) when the last of the stash had finally worn out. I was intending to use silk from reclaimed scarves found in my imaginary bountiful searches in the second hand shops. Well, my limited searches had come up with naught; I'd found plenty of synthetic scarves but im such a tactile textile person that i was set on a natural fibre for my shopping. Enter the most wonderful stocking stuffers ever from my sister in law. Eco-bags; sheer, organic, fair trade cotton (produce bags voile) made in fair wage factories from Sustainable Fairfax. Eco-bags are an American distributor but i havent found any equivalent company here in Autralia, yet.

Ive scouted around a bit in the organic food shops since we returned from the US and have not seen anything like them in the shops here. Plenty of synthetic parachute fabric bags but they dont compare to the feel of these cotton ones. There's market scope for bamboo or hemp ones for the ecologically conscious i think. But using them feels very decadent i must say, luxurious in fact. They are soundless and feel beautiful, and i have had a few traders ask about them and take down the website. im thinking they will make great fund raising merchandise as they can be printed up with any logo or message. Im hooked and just a little in love.

Sunday, January 4

Butterfly Award


This post has been on the drafting board for far too long. Thank you Team Effort; what a lovely gift, recieved with honour and gratitude and a dose of humility. I dont as a rule recieve very well and have a much easier time giving, so its a good thing the 'rules' require one to pass it on. Hmm, easier said than done...do all your tag free zones preclude awards too ??? Im going to assume they do. Some blogs that i read and love and think are pretty special are team effort but she passed it to me ( might have to make you a special one of your own, your pics alone make my day), blue milk for her easily digestable and often hilarious feminist critique of what can sometimes be weighty and unweildy topics to deal with in the snippetty blog world, midwife mutiny for her tireless efforts to normalise birth and to provide women with real birth choices and information in the hostile world of overly medicalised maternal health, Jonathan at wasted food for his efforts in educating blog readers about this rather unsexy problem; wasteful practices of both the public and private worlds and for providing practical measures to reduce waste and a space to discuss it. kale for sale for being a haiku comrade and a blogger with great green cred and a writing style to match (im sorry we didnt catch up when i was in town, i got 'big blogger' shy) and im mad and i eat for a wonderful microscopic view into the world of a die hard foodie with attitude, sum of mum for her poignant writing and breathtaking insight into grief and life, inner city garden who provides perspectives on life with a cracking wit and finally mad gnome strikes again for being a supportive neighbour in the blog hood (!) and reminding me of 'what needs planting when', in this neck of the woods. If youre up for it...

To accept this award, you are agreeing to:
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 blogs that you follow
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message to those nominees on their blog

Friday, January 2

Home


bless his little cotton socks, the boy travelled the 14 hour flight home without a peep. We even got a few comments from fellow travellers about his impressive flying demeanour (slept 7 hours and laughed the rest). I even managed to watch a few movies 35,000 ft above sea level.

Home...HOME! God, the delight of walking in our front door was bliss and heaven and even the thought of returning to work next week, (eek, thats like so IMMINENT, so imminent that i haven't even thought about the logistics of it ...thats a bit of a clue into my general character..head..sand..) cannot daunt my joy of beng back in my own space. My own space that still has guests staying (just to keep the party going) old friends are back in town with their two girls (ours return on monday - Yippee).

So we swung back into town and swung straight into news years revelling and woke the next day, a tad worse for wear, but pretty chuffed that we'd managed to cross the pacific with a kid AND do new years in a manner that any 21 year old would have been proud of and then welcomed another 15 friends over at noon on new years day for the long overdue firing of the oven for a serious pizza party.


About 12 pizzas worked their way through the oven and i roasted a few trays of vegetables fresh from the garden. Here's the first pizza; roasted veggies with goat cheese. Yummo. It was perfect weather and a great way to welcome in the new year, although I haven't yet really computed that another year is already underway. My new years resoloutions/missives are about 3 days away yet!

I hope you all had a fun transition into the new year and are fresh for the possibilities of the year ahead.

Haiku Friday


at the gardens door,
greetings of colorful joy.
its great to be home